Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search


Putting a spring in production

Putting a spring in production

Bala Tikkisetty

Spring is a key time when it comes to fertilising pasture and farmers need to take a considered approach to help protect the environment and their bottom line profits.

Too much fertiliser - or fertiliser applied at the wrong time or in the wrong place – can end up contributing , via run-off or leaching, to reductions in the health of our waterways.

Such losses also mean the hard cash spent on fertiliser isn’t providing the maximum economic reward.

But too little fertilizer can compromise production.

Use of a sound nutrient management plan can help avoid these sorts of problems.

Before buying fertiliser, I recommend farmers look at their nutrient budget and talk to a fertiliser rep about their individual properties.

However, there are some general strategies farmers can use to help avoid problems such as nitrate (N) leaching to ground water, excessive phosphorus levels in soil (measured by Olsen P) and stock poisoning.

While stock urine is the main contributor to nitrate leaching, losses can also be markedly increased if too much N fertiliser is applied.

Losses to ground water are likely to be highest during periods with excess rainfall and low soil temperatures that limit pasture growth and N uptake – that is autumn, winter and early spring.

So farmers can reduce the amount of N leaching and run-off from pasture by avoiding fertiliser application at times when plant uptake of nitrogen is low, such as when soils are saturated, during heavy rain, colder periods and when soil temperatures are low.

Other measures include:
• applying N fertiliser in split dressings (a little and often)
• making sure farm dairy effluent is applied at low rates and to a large enough area
• adjusting fertiliser policy for effluent irrigated areas to account for the nutrient value of effluent
• standing cows off pasture during wet weather and capturing their effluent for later application
• fencing off wetlands and open drains.

On the other hand, Phosporous (P) is not a significantly “leaky” element leaching through soils, because it binds tightly to soil particles. This means P gets into waterways mostly as a result of erosion. So any bare soil on sloping land creates a risk of P transport to water bodies.

Tracks and races can also be a source of P run-off to water. The risk of such run-off is obviously higher if Olsen P is excessive.

Farmers can reduce the amount of P running off by ensuring they don’t apply phosphate fertiliser when heavy rain is forecast. Farmers should also:
• apply fertiliser when the grass is in an actively growing phase
• make sure fertiliser isn’t applied near waterways
• leave a grassed buffer strip between paddock and waterway – the strip helps to filter out some of the nutrients before the run-off reaches the water
• control run-off from tracks, races, feed and stand-off pads.

Also remember that fertiliser can be poisonous to stock if ingested directly. Make sure animals don’t have direct access to fertiliser bins or other storage facilities and don’t graze pasture if fertiliser particles are visible – it’s best to wait until sufficient rain has washed the particles into the soil.

Voluntary guidelines and codes of practices, developed by the farming industry are helpful in managing nutrients. These include the Code of Practice for Nutrient Management, Fertmark and Spreadmark.

• Bala Tikkisetty is a sustainable agriculture co-ordinator at Waikato Regional Council. Contact him at bala.tikkisetty@waikatoregion.govt.nz or call 0800 800 401.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Perils Of Declaring Premature Victory

Sure enough, Saturday’s Vaxathon was a barrel of fun and a throwback not merely to the Telethons of the past. It also revived memories of those distant days of early 2020, when we were all carefully wiping down our groceries, not touching our faces, washing our hands for 20 seconds and responding to level four lockdowns by putting teddy bears in the window for the benefit of the little kids walking by in their family bubbles. Those were the days, when the Team of Five Million felt like a real, organic thing... More>>



Economy: Inflation highest in over a decade
The consumers price index rose 2.2 percent in the September 2021 quarter, the biggest quarterly movement since a 2.3 percent rise in the December 2010 quarter, Stats NZ said today. Excluding quarters impacted by increases to GST rates, the September quarter movement was the highest since the June 1987 quarter... More>>


Government: Opportunity To Shape NZ’s First Emissions Reduction Plan
The Government is inviting New Zealanders to inform the country’s first Emissions Reduction Plan with the release of a consultation document containing a range of policy ideas to decrease the country’s emissions, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Climate Change Minister James Shaw announced today... More>>


Government: Books Show Resilient And Strong Economy
The end of year audited Crown accounts released today show the Government’s health led approach to the COVID-19 pandemic has protected New Zealand’s economy. “On almost every indicator the accounts show that the New Zealand economy has performed better than forecast... More>>

Government: Mandatory Vaccination For Two Workforces

Large parts of two workforces critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19 will be required to be vaccinated, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “Our education and health and disability workforces have done an incredible job throughout this pandemic to keep themselves and people safe,” Chris Hipkins said.... More>>

Green Party: Deeply Concerned Space Launches May Be Breaching Nuclear-free Laws

The Green Party is deeply concerned that space launches by Rocket Lab may be breaching nuclear-free laws, given our long-standing position as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty... More>>

Children's Commissioner: Call For Mandatory Vaccination Of Children’s Workforce
The Children’s Commissioner and Assistant Māori Commissioner are calling for a plan for the mandatory vaccination of teachers and the entire children’s workforce in New Zealand... More>>




InfoPages News Channels